Hello and welcome to Five Weeknight Dishes, the newsletter for busy people who still want something good to eat.
I find that this time of year I’m entranced by the idea of projects, like baking a wild array of cookies, chocolate babka, Japanese cheesecake, cardamom buns, brandied fruit scones. I want to make mushroom Wellington and lamb biryani and a caramelized onion galette. I have a vague plan, probably more accurately described as a dream, that I’ll make cassoulet for Christmas.
And yet I still — still — have to cook dinner after work, something satisfying but also fast enough to leave the mental space, time and energy for making baklava, fesenjoon or a timpano. These five recipes strike that balance. Tell me what you’re making this December, especially if you’re tackling projects, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Here are five dishes for the week:
Bless the brilliant Kay Chun for this superb sheet-pan recipe that combines mustard, miso and ginger to coat chicken thighs, and that includes instructions for making lunch with leftovers: Mix any remaining chicken with chopped bok choy, olive oil, lemon juice and chopped celery or herbs to make chicken salad.
You can find shakshuka across various parts of North Africa and the Middle East, but the addition of shrimp is something you see near the Mediterranean Coast, where seafood is abundant. This Tunisian version comes from Jamel Charouel, one of NYT Cooking’s software engineers, and it is fresh and bright (and easily made vegetarian if you’d like).
A fantastic fast dinner from Sue Li, this sweet-savory stir-fry is mostly comprised of pantry staples, including a pretty thrilling full tablespoon of crushed black peppercorns. A teaspoon of cornstarch tenderizes the meat and makes the sauce silky.
There is a pretty spicy origin story attached to pasta puttanesca that I won’t get into here. Instead I’ll just tell you that this recipe, by Mark Bittman, is a powerfully flavored pantry pasta that is as easy and satisfying as anything you’ll make all month.